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Problems Giving & Receiving Affection in Kids on the Spectrum

"My high-functioning autistic son refuses to be touched most of the time. He says he doesn't like it. It's really hard to have a child that you can't hug, kiss or hold. Is it common for children with the disorder to avoid showing and receiving affection?"

Although it can happen, it is rare for children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger's (AS) to "refuse" to be touched at all times - in all situations. However, it is fairly common for them to have tactile sensory issues, which may make them avoid certain types of physical contact with others on occasion.

BUT... this really has nothing at all to do with the inability - or lack of desire - to show or receive affection. Kids on the autism spectrum are the most loving and affectionate people I know! So please don't make the mistake of taking your son's lack of interest in physical contact as a personal insult.

One of the most pervasive myths that surround HFA and AS is that a youngster who has it will never show affection and can’t accept getting affection from anyone. There have been hundreds of stories of parents taking their child to a psychologist and the doctor telling the parents something like, "Your child can’t possibly have an Autism Spectrum Disorder because he gives you a hug now and then."

While this assessment is incorrect, studies have shown that autistic children do process sensory touch differently than a "typical" child, and that this is where the myth that young people on the spectrum don’t like to be touched comes from.

HFA and the way it affects kids really runs the gamut from light to severe. An excellent point to remember when dealing with a child on the spectrum is that every one is different and will react to almost everything differently.

Here are some tips for showing your HFA son affection:

1. For a few kids on the spectrum, a simple, random hug can be sensory overload. They can become agitated, upset and even violent if they are touched without prior warning. You will probably need to have a trial and error approach when it comes to hugging and touching your son. Some methods may be responded to in a positive way, other ways won’t be. You just have to try and see.

2. If you think your son needs a hug, instead of rushing into his personal space and just taking one, speak to him, bend down to his level and open your arms. Smile and let him know that he is loved and see what the response is. If he doesn't come running in for a hug, don’t be offended. It may just not have been the right time.

3. If your son is too sensitive to hugs or touches to show affection, you can try positive reinforcement in addition to hand singles. Things like a simple thumbs up accompanied by a smile and some positive comments can let him know he is loved and what he did was good. You can also offer him a chance to hug during these situations - and he might just take you up on it.

4. Make sure everyone is on the same page. If you are starting to make progress on getting your son to be more affectionate, you don’t need a sibling, teacher or grandparent who doesn’t know or understand your son’s boundaries messing up all of your hard work. If you’ve begun to implement an affection program with him, make sure everyone who would possibly try to hug or touch him knows the rules.




Consistency and repetition are crucial to HFA kids, and this applies to a situation like this as well. Trying to figure out a puzzling condition like autism can be a lifelong challenge. For many moms and dads, the affection issue may be the biggest. But with patience and learning to go by your son’s cues and not your own, you will be able to connect with him in a deep and meaningful way.




COMMENTS FROM PARENTS:

•    Anonymous said... 7 yr old- that was a characteristic that always puzzled me before we starting looking into "reasons why" he behaved the way he does. Helps put things into perspective a bit and not take it personal. However, with time, he has learned to handle hand shakes and an occasional hug or kiss on the top of his head. But I do like that portion in the article where it's not that they don't want it...they just can't handle the sensory overload. It's very clear he does wants that attention...it takes conscious effort to change our way of showing appreciation, love, etc with C. but it's worth it in the long run!

•    Anonymous said... It's probably really hard for the child to have a parent that wants to hug, kiss or hold him too.

•    Anonymous said... jp doest like light touches when he was younger he didn't even like the wind touching him so he would only wear long pants and long sleeves no matter how hot outside with a lot of work and time 7 years he now wears shorts and t shirts and asks for hugs or should I say tight squeezes

•    Anonymous said... My 10yr old never gives hugs either and hardly ever smiles either but when he does its so joyful

•    Anonymous said... My daughter is the same way. She doesn't like physical touch. It is very hard while my son also Aspergers like touch but only when he seeks it out first.

•    Anonymous said... My some does not like soft fluffy things or touched soft. He says it hurts. It have learned that he likes deep pressure hugs and touch on holding his hand or shoulder. Also taught him to ask for "transformer hugs" I put him in my lap facing out and hug his shoulders snug, then put pressure on his head, then he pushes upward, then do the same to each joint wrist to elbow, elbow to shoulder and same with legs until he tells me he feels better. I love him so, and glad I am figuring out his puzzle pieces.

•    Anonymous said... My son is nine and now I can hug him and he will hug us back sometimes but he still does not like to be touched by anyone other than us...and I think he just tolerates us so he doesn't hurt our feelings because he has been told so many times that mommies like to hug their children because we love them so much.

•    Anonymous said... My son likes "tight" hugs as well- took me a long time to learn what he deems "affection" Sometimes he will just come up and sniff me and smile, and that's affection from him!

•    Anonymous said... My son likes deep pressure and hugs...however, we had him in karate for about a year and he didn't like that. We thought he did but he got to a point of hiding in the bathroom whenever it was time for the one on one sparring. I finally dropped the karate.

•    Anonymous said... My son was like that for a long time. He wouldn't let you kiss or hug him or hold his hand. He might let you put your arm around him or sit in your lap, but that was when he was sick or hurt. My mom said when I was a baby, I didn't want to be held and she would have to stand next to the crib and hold my bottle for me. I still find, in alot of situations, that I don't really want to be touched too much.

•    Anonymous said... Was your child diagnosed with sensory integration disorder? My 7 yo wasnt as sensitive to some aspies are to textures or touch. We did the brushing therapy where we used soft baby brushes when he woke up. We brushed him up and down his back and arms and legs. He slso was a tip toer when he walked. He eventually grew out of that with the help of occupational therapy. Like Marcia, my son responded to compression hugs too and uses a compression vest while in school or therapy.

•    Anonymous said... We have two children on the spectrum, one totally dislikes hugs or hugging, the other will literally hang off me 24/7 if she could!

•    Anonymous said... yes my 2 grown a/s daughters the same,and my a/s hubby not much different, its sad.

•    Anonymous said... My 10 year old aspie,is forever asking for hugs.It's like a form of therapy for him!I'm thankful it's not the other way around.My heart goes out to you.

•    Anonymous said... My 6 year old grandson loves to cuddle and have hugs. Not all Aspies do not like touch. Maybe take it slow.

•    Anonymous said... My daughter is 15. She can go both ways. Sometimes she doesn't like to be touched and other times she asks me to hug her and kiss on her. I let it be up to her or if I want to hug and kiss her I ask her first so I don't upset her if she didn't want me to.

•    Anonymous said... My now 16yr old has never liked to be touched. In honesty I wish I had of zoned in more with therapy regarding this as now has impacted on the mother/son bond. It's sad.

•    Anonymous said... My son doesn't like hugs either. He is not very affectionate the most I get out of him is I love you but it's good enough for me.

•    Anonymous said... some do some don't, it can be too much of a sensory overload for them.

Post your comment below…


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More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book


==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Should You Home-School Your HFA or AS Child?

"I am considering home schooling for my son (high functioning) starting the second quarter of this school year due to the multiple issues we have had with school officials. There appears to be a gross lack of awareness of the needs of students on the autism spectrum in this district, and we feel our son is being left to 'die on the vine'. Are you a proponent for this alternative form of education? What factors do I need to consider before making a decision?"

Home-schooling is a popular educational alternative for many moms and dads of kids with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger's (AS), especially if they are tired of nagging school officials to accommodate their "special needs" son or daughter. However, there are some important issues to consider before making the decision to home-school.

If you're considering this option, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Are you ready for the critics? Home-schooling has come a long way in terms of acceptance by the general public, but home-schooling skeptics still exist. Thick skin, regarding the opinions of others is a helpful attribute of home-schooling moms and dads.

2. Can you afford it? Home-schooling can be done on a shoestring budget when necessary, but there will likely be at least some cost associated with home-schooling. For most families, the decision to home-school also results in limited income potential for the primary home-schooling mother or father.

3. Do you have the disciplinary techniques to home-school? Home-schooling moms and dads aren't perfect, but a certain level of discipline is necessary in order for home-schooling to be successful. It's important to evaluate your current level of discipline, both as an individual and as a parent before making the decision to home-school.

4. How does your husband or wife feel about home-schooling? Although it is possible to home-school if only one of the parents believes in home-schooling, it can be very difficult to home-school on a long-term basis without approval and support from the youngster's other parent.

5. How will you arrange to meet your youngster's socialization needs? Does your youngster have opportunities to play and learn with other kids in the neighborhood and church? Are there opportunities in your area for scouting, sports, and get-togethers with other home-schoolers?

6. What are the home-schooling laws in your state? Home-schooling laws vary from state to state. For example, some states require the home-schooling parent to have a level of education.

7. Why do you want to home-school your child? It's important to know your reasons for deciding to home-school so that when doubts about home-schooling arise, you can remind yourself why you wanted to home-school in the first place. You may even find it helpful to write your reasons for home-schooling down, so that on the worst of days, you'll have something to look to for encouragement and motivation.

Carefully thinking through the above questions will help you determine whether or not home-schooling is right for you.

Another part of the decision-making process would be to look at the advantages and potential disadvantages of home-schooling. Here are just a few:


Advantages of home-schooling:
  1. An HFA youngster's natural thirst for learning is nurtured, not squelched, and learning becomes a lifelong joy. 
  2. Kids are allowed to mature at their own speeds, no "hurried child" syndrome.  
  3. Each youngster's education can be tailored to his or her unique interests, pace, and learning style.
  4. Family life revolves around its own needs and priorities rather than the demands of school. 
  5. Family values and beliefs are central to social, emotional and academic development.
  6. Home-schooled kids are comfortable interacting with people of all ages.
  7. Home-schooled kids are largely free from peer pressure.
  8. Home-schooled kids become independent thinkers who are secure in their own convictions.
  9. Home-schooled kids view adults as an integrated part of their world and as natural partners in learning. 
  10. Home-schoolers enjoy unlimited educational resources; the world is our classroom, and resources abound in the community. 
  11. Home-schooling kids have time to pursue their special interests and talents. 
  12. Home-schooling creates/maintains positive sibling relationships. 
  13. Home-schooling prevents premature parent-child separation, avoiding inappropriate pressure on kids. 
  14. Home-schooling promotes good communication and emotional closeness within a family. 
  15. Home-schooling provides a high teacher-student ratio for the child. 
  16. Home-schooling provides positive and appropriate socialization with peers and adults. 
  17. Moms and dads and other adults are the primary role models for home-schooled kids. 
  18. The parent is with his/her kid all day. 
  19. Moms and dads know and understand their kids, and are influential in their lives, even as they enter the teen years. 
  20. Research shows that the two most important factors in reading and overall educational success are positive home influence and parental involvement; home-schooling provides both.

Potential disadvantages of home-schooling:

1. Parental burn-out: You have to know ahead of time that there will be a lot of frustration coming from the HFA child when you are covering hard subjects, and that when they get flustered, you can't allow yourself to do the same. It is important that you are able to separate at times the role of parent and educator, because you will have to be there for your youngster in a different manner in times like these.

2. Lacking the knowledge to teach effectively: You can't take it out on yourself if a subject is slightly more difficult to teach than the next one. Textbooks are out there which have been designed to teach straight from them, and acquiring them can remove some of the stigma from difficult subjects like Science or Math. The key is that you have to know that you may need to spend some time with a particular subject so you can get to the point where you can “teach” that subject. Also, you need to know that you will be teaching year-round, and that it really is going to be a full-time job. That means that you need to treat it like one, and not like a free pass from getting a public paid job.

3. Lack of socialization: Not being able to learn with peers, and not being able to associate and congregate with other students the same age can lead to some developmental problems. An inability to socialize well, a shyness that comes with not being around other kids, and a tendency to work better alone rather than in a team stem from this lack of association. These are of course things that could be overcome if the attempt is made to rectify them. By being involved in other activities, by living in a neighborhood with many other children that can be socialized with in free time, or by having siblings or cousins that are in the public system, the social skills can rub off on kids that are home-schooled.

4. Lack of resources: Resources aren't as fluid as they are in a public/private school setting. The theory is that schools will have better books, and the educators will have a better education than a mother or father does, and it could serve as a disadvantage if the parent is not ready and willing to be the go-to person for everything under the sun. The parent must be willing to do the research if a question can't be answered on the spot, which could actually turn into an advantage if he/she is willing to go that extra mile.

5. Cost: The cost of homeschooling can start to come into play when you purchase textbooks and teaching materials, and thus it makes it harder for the family that is doing the home-schooling. Further costs come into play when you consider the opportunity cost of a parent staying home, and not bringing in a second income for the family. This could be the big thing that keeps some families from homeschooling, simply because it costs the family a second source of money.

6. A defiant student at school will likely be a defiant student at home: If you have had frequent power-struggles to get your child to do homework, you need to be prepared for those struggles as a home-schooler. Just because your child can stay home and do his school-work doesn’t mean he is going to become magically compliant when it comes to (a) sitting in YOUR classroom and (b) completing homework assigned by YOU.

So, these are the factors to consider when deciding whether or not home-schooling is right for your child -- and you. Good luck in your decision-making process.



Here's what other parents have had to say about the home-schooling issue:

•    Anonymous said... Absolutely! We've just gone through ur 7yo Aspie son's first term doind distance ed at home. He also has ADHD and is gifted, with major sensory issues, so you can imagine how well he DIDNT cope in a classroom. It's the best thing we ever did for him. He was immediately put up a grade and has aced everything. I can't recommend homeschool enough for our special kids

•    Anonymous said... Actually it is not true that home-schooled kids are under-socialized. I know many home-schooled children who are very well rounded. They are not forced to socialize with same aged peers in a classroom, but parents are free to open a whole world of social experiences for their children, in which they socialize with all different ages and with people from different backgrounds. My son benefited more from the social aspect of homeschooling then he did all this past year in a classroom. There are home-school co-ops, opportunities in church and in the community that provides plenty of social experiences. On any given day my son would socialize with the librarian at the community library, other children from our local co-op, the cashier at the grocery store, his swim instructor...etc., and he was comfortable with it. And lets just face it, most of our kids are not and never will be social butterflies. I encourage my children to interact for what is absolutely necessary, but I refuse to try to put my kid in a box according to what society says is the "norm". My oldest son never attended a school dance, he didn't go to his prom, or even to football games, he has also never partied at some kids house while their parents are out of town. He has a few choice friends and that is all he wants. He would much rather build a computer then be "socialized" He is intelligent and witty and getting ready to start college in the fall. He spent 12 years in public school and it never achieved "socialization" for him, and he was miserable. If I had it to do over he would have been schooled at home. Their are plenty of successful people in this world who are not "social". So it is a total myth that home-schooled children are under-socialized, or that public school children are "properly socialized".... Just do what it best for YOU and your child...and know that the decisions you make for your child is the RIGHT choice!

•    Anonymous said... Basically, you HAVE to be an advocate for your child, his ambassador to the world.

•    Anonymous said... Ditto that homeschooled kids are not under socialised. Unfortunately it is a stereotype that lingers. Anyhow, I am a single lady and homeschool my son as well as work more than full time. My son and I recently looked in to school but public schools in British Columbia cannot meet my son's needs.

•    Anonymous said... home school improves everything, regardless of the learning style of the child! Read John Gatto's indictment of the "system" http://www.informationliberation.com/?id=11375 …The news you're not supposed to know...

•    Anonymous said... Children who attend school have only short periods of time to socialize, other than being in the classroom, and they spend a full 7 hours each day including travel time there. We have done both public school and homeschool, and I can tell you that the quality of the social interactions matters more than the quantity. My Aspie son is working better in groups now than when he was in school. He has one "best" friend from preK, and two new friends from homeschooling. He plays with other kids several times each week. He takes co-op classes. And most of his peers who homeschool are just as well-socialized.

•    Anonymous said... I am going to be home schooling my son also

•    Anonymous said... I decided that homeschooling wasn't going to give him the social interaction that he needs.

•    Anonymous said... I have done both and their are pro's and cons to both. My Aspie son has a Learning Disability in math and I felt like I wasn't able to teach him that subject. Now he has been in school for almost a year and I feel it has been a wasted year. I hope things get better next year or home schooling is definitely in our future again.

•    Anonymous said... I am of the opinion that the best thing is for my son to be in school in the environment that is most synonymous with the real world which he will face as a legal adult in a few very short years (... now 6). The most important thing is this, though: you have to maintain a POSITIVE, helpful, involved, informed, daily, communicative relationship with your child's school and ALL personnel with which he will come into contact throughout each day. You HAVE to arrange for tutoring sessions (with the right person) as needed. You HAVE to secure appropriate accommodations through 504 or Sped. services as needed (maintaining focus not only on areas in which remediation is necessary but also in areas of personal interest, areas of strength and social goals). You HAVE to assist the teachers in creating tools that will help your child digest all of what he is learning in the classroom (because learning styles are everything). You HAVE to read, read, read so that you can make informed decisions and offer educated insight in various situations. You HAVE to actively help your child navigate the social aspects of their days... This is hard; however, it is one of the most important things you'll need to do for your child.

•    Anonymous said... I homeschool my 11 y/o Aspie and we both love it. He was in a regular classroom in public school until 4th grade (age 9), when school became a nightmare for us: he was becoming angry and violent because of thing that were happening to him at the school, and I had spent years running back and forth to school on an almost daily basis, helping with his "behavior", which was really just him being unable to emotionally handle the demands of sitting in a classroom all day. We really thought it out -- I had to quit my job, and we sold a car to afford it -- and then felt like we had no other choice but to take the plunge. I am so glad we did! Things to consider: 1. Will he listen to and learn from you? 2. Can you handle 24/7 with your kid? (it's not easy); 3. Can you afford it financially long-term? 4. What kind of curriculum does he learn best from? 5. Are there other supports for both of you (co-ops, public school resources you will continue to use, etc). For the most part, I thought it would be a harder decision than it was. We started off with unit studies to get him out of the "schooling" mindset. Then it took about six months of trying curriculum before we found what worked. (Surprisingly, he wanted school books -- work texts -- that he could read from and write in. I think it's very concrete for him, how much he has to do each day, and it works for me too. We supplement with hands-on stuff.) Now, he has his own schedule, which he completes in about 3 hours each day, and he gets to help pick what he studies and learns. He needs a measure of control, and homeschooling gives it to him where school couldn't. We enjoy time with other homeschool kids through play dates and co-op classes. I think he feels much more safe at home, though I make sure to include social skills as a regular part of his curriculum. I firmly believe in homeschooling for kids who are outside of the "average." They learn at their own pace, in their own way, and come out all the better for it. Good luck with your choice!

•    Anonymous said... I just started homeschooling my aspie son as well and he loves it. He likes being able to move onto something new when he wants to and being able to take the day off of he's having an off day. He also likes that I let him have a big say in his curriculum and the extras we do, such as the Lego wedo learning system. This is the best choice I ever could have made.

•    Anonymous said... I started home ed for my aspie son at Easter and his younger brother too. Both are making great academic progress and are happier, loads fewer meltdowns, less medication. There are lots of other home educators out there, we all meet up regularly. Home ed groups for drama, sport, science and french. Its so much less stress than school was means I'm much happier too!

•    Anonymous said... I started home schooling my Aspie son in 4th grade and it was the BEST decision I ever made. He absolutely flourished in that environment. He loved learning so the schooling part was not a problem. And then we chose a few activities to be involved in outside the home. He is 19 years old now, received a scholarship to college and complete his first year of college very successfully with a 3.5 GPA. He lives at home and commutes to college which is about an hour away. He has truly blossomed in college and I believe it's b/c he had all those years at home being built up instead of being torn apart by his peers. He has grown into a confident young man who most of the time you wouldn't even know he has Aspergers!! . He still has some quirks of course, but over all, he's amazing! Follow your heart and do what you think is best for your child.

•    Anonymous said... I started homeschooling my son with HFA after about two months of misery in a private school for kindergarten. Finding that private school was very hard, and I really hoped that it would be good for him, because it had a smaller class, a great student/teacher ratio, and seemed to value a love of learning (rather than feeling pressured to teach to a test). But the two months he spent in that school were awful for all of us - despite a lot of hard work. Homeschooling my son is one of the BEST decisions I have ever made in my life. It is much better for both of us. I used to spend hours and hours commuting to that school, writing and reading emails to the teachers, and wracking my brain trying to think of strategies to make the situation work for my child and the rest of the people in his class. I actually spend LESS time now investing in homeschooling, and it is far more happy time, and instead of it being time spent trying to make something tolerable, it's time spent making something wonderful.

•    Anonymous said... i think it is a personal decision you know your child best just remember they need to learn how to interact and socialize appropriately

•    Anonymous said... I would consider the social aspect - not just the "socializing" time like at recess - but how to cope around other people. My daughter never had a problem with the academic part - it was the dealing with the other people part that always got her in trouble. How much time is your aspie going to have around other children or other authority figures? You need to consider how much they will get and how much they will need before you make a final decision.

•    Anonymous said... I'd love to, in theory, but I'm a single mother (only "breadwinner") and my parental burnout levels are high enough already. School is my only respite.

•    Anonymous said... it has pros and cons, depending on where you live, because they need to interact with their peers..

•    Anonymous said... My son is overly attached to me and learning to be independent and able to cope with the world without my running interference has been a years long goal. Homeschooling would just exacerbate that problem. It's been a long fight, but we finally have he school district paying for a proper school. Having a chance to interact with other kids who are very intelligent but with social/emotional issues is a blessing. He's had peers tell him that taking space to prevent a meltdown is fine and he won't get in trouble.

•    Anonymous said... Our kids need MORE socializing, not less... homeschooled kids in general are under socialized. Though there ARE ways that you can get around this... planned participation in group activities, for instance.

•    Anonymous said... The main reason I didn't consider homeschooling sooner is that I had the mistaken idea that I wouldn't be able to offer my child an opportunity to learn social skills and build friendships if he wasn't in school. But actually, homeschooling gives me an opportunity to help him do those things in ways that work far better. Rather than being dropped on a playground for twenty minutes with more than a hundred kids, he can go on playdates with a small group of children who are also homeschooled. Rather than having to adjust to a new group of 20+ kids with each year's class, he is able to form close friendships with a core group of kids that he is likely to continue playing with for years to come.

•    Anonymous said... They need the social interaction. If you did home school, you would have to be vigilant in your efforts to socialize him. Scouts, karate, theatre, find as many ways as possible to get him with other children. I am hoping my nephew can make it through middle school. I'm going to get him to take the SAT (they can take it in 7th grade) and if he blows those scores out of the water, like he does everything else, there is a chance he could be offered some really great educational opportunities. I already know public school is not the best fit for him but in his case home schooling is really not an option.

•    Anonymous said... This will be our first year homeschooling. I must have heard "I don't want to go to school today" about one million times in the past two years. He would come home with food stains on his clothes because kids were smearing food on him in the cafeteria. He also had bruises numerous times that he refused to talk about. We decided enough is enough. The principal said no special accommodation would be made for him, socially or academically. Ever since we made the decision to homeschool grade two his anxiety levels dropped by 90% even though he still had a couple of months of school left. I am looking forward to the journey. It will be tricky since I am keeping his younger brother in school for now. I know it will be stressful but I doubt it could get any worse than what the past year has been.

•    Anonymous said... Since home schooling his stress levels have decreased so much that he is now able to cope with joining in group activities. His is far more social than before. There is so many home ed groups out there so as long as you as a parent aren't socially isolated neither will they be.

•    Anonymous said... I have been homeschooling my 6th grader for only 4 months, after pulling him out of the public school for a variety of reasons. It's been quite a challenge! LOL. He will be starting a private school after spring break, and it will be a much better fit. We really wanted to find a good school for him before the end of this school year bc the social aspect is so important, not to mention it really changed family dynamics for him to be home. I also have. 4th grade daughter with different challenges. I know that private school can be daunting, but we were very happy with the financial aid offered, as we never thought we could make it work. It's been a long 4 months for all of us, but it was worth it. On a positive note, I LOVED getting to really know him one on one, which can be a challenge with a normal school/family schedule. I know we have a closer relationship now.

•    Anonymous said... I was actually able to get the school to provide a home tutor because I got a dr. Note saying he needed to be out of the classroom for x amount of time due to the stress and lack of meeting his needs in the classroom. We made a big stink about that.

•    Anonymous said... In BC in the fraser valley I just found out there is a school for kids with autism and such, I don't know if this is something other communities are trying to incorporate and I only found out about it from a friend of a friend who has kids there. I had no clue otherwise it even existed!

•    Anonymous said... My son survived middle school by attending a school for children with learning differences. The student-teacher ratio was 5:1. Unfortunately, that school does not have high school classes. He attended a small private school for two years where he made a couple of really good friends, but academically it was disastrous. He completed 11th and 12th grades online with great success.

•    Anonymous said... This is definitely something to think about. It has crossed my mind a couple times this year because my daughter had struggled so much at school. My main concern is cost. Are there any programs that can help with the costs of home schooling?

•    Anonymous said... We currently school at home with Michigan Virtual Charter Academy at K12. It has allowed our kiddo with Asperger tendencies to really flourish! It's lovely to be able to provide a controlled environment for him but also have the support of teachers!

•    Anonymous said... I am doing it.....home school...that way we know how to correct his negative behaviors....

•    Anonymous said... I am not in favor with a child like this . They need socialization and a lot of structure which I feel the home environment can't provide

•    Anonymous said... We use a K12.com school and it's been wonderful! We get the same services and even get full time in home IBI support while we're doing her work. Yes it's hard but worth it, my child and many others have blossomed at home and now she's getting straight A's, the school bent over backwards giving us an IEP that we couldn't get at a B&M school and it allows my child to move at her place, in 7th grade she's already earning high school credit. She will enter high school as a sophomore and will start earning college credit in high school. This from a child who was a mess and failing all her classes in "regular" school.

•    Anonymous said... I have homeschooled my aspie for the last two years. It wasn't too hard for him to be in elementary school, but he found middle school very painful. He was misunderstood and didn't understand them either. His frustration levels stayed very high, he starting feeling awful about himself, his thoughts became suicidal...I can go on. Socialising him was no longer a relevant argument when it is that very socialisation that is tearing him up. It has taken almost all of these last two years our me to get my son back. He has decided to try high school at the end of this year. We will support him in this decision, and we will be ready to catch him if he falls...then we will try again and again. There are so many great homeschooling coops where you can socialize. It doesn't only happen in a classroom.

•    Anonymous said... K12 is the number one choice in K-12 online education programs in America. K12 is the trusted provider of...

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Poor Personal Hygiene in Teens on the Autism Spectrum: 32 Tips for Parents

"I could use some tips on how to get my 16 y.o. teenager (high functioning autistic) to have better hygiene. His breath and arm pits stink most of the time. He hates to brush his teeth or take a shower. He doesn't even like to wear clothes (walks around the house in his boxer shorts most of the time)."

Sounds like you are going to have to assume the role of "personal hygiene coach."  Lucky you! Here are some of the main reasons teens on the autism spectrum seem to avoid practicing good personal hygiene:
  • Brushing hair or getting a haircut because they usually have very sensitive scalps.
  • Brushing teeth (e.g., not liking the taste of toothpaste, experiencing burning or stinging from it, having sensitive teeth and gums).
  • Getting dressed and feeling comfortable in clothing. Irritations can occur from loose fitting clothing touching the skin, tags or labels scratching, and clothes that are too stiff or too tight.
  • Poor vestibular system functioning means these young people often feel wobbly on their feet and suffer from gravitational insecurity (e.g., dislike of being upside-down, being suspended in mid-air or having their feet off the ground). Therefore, the simple act of bending forward or backward over a sink or in the shower can create dizziness, anxiety or mild panic.
  • Some teens on the spectrum fear falling over if they shut their eyes, thus you can imagine the potential anxiety experienced by simply washing their face in the shower.
  • Using deodorant. The shock of the cold spray on their warm armpit coupled with the quite high-powered aerosol delivery causes genuine alarm and discomfort. Most deodorants are strongly scented, which also bombards a sensory sensitive teenager.

While the typical youngster can usually master personal  hygiene skills by the time they are age 6, children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger's often struggle with these tasks due to sensory issues (e.g., smells, sounds and textures) that are related to these skills. Fortunately, as they become more familiar with the tools used for personal hygiene, these tasks will be much easier.
 

Here are some tips to help with personal hygiene issues:

1. Brushing teeth is a task that can be difficult for children with HFA. The aversion problems have to do with a foreign object going in their mouth, the texture of the brush, and the taste of the toothpaste. What you may find helpful in introducing tooth brushing to your youngster is to use an electric toothbrush with a character on it that he enjoys. The vibration from the electric toothbrush and the familiar character will make this task more enjoyable. Once you overcome the aversion issues, all you have to do is demonstrate the process, have him copy you, and then narrate the steps as he tries to do it himself.

2. Have the same sex parent teach your son new hygiene practices. A man is better at teaching a boy to shave, for example, and a woman is better at helping a girl cope with her period.

3. Keep your grooming routine as stable as possible. Do everything in the same order and at the same time every day.

4. Look at a youth magazine with your son for ideas about hairstyles. Keep it simple, but not nerdy. Let him do it himself if at all possible.

5. Another challenge for teens on the spectrum is washing the underarms and using deodorant. Explain how it is done and why. Go slowly at first. You may want to let your son practice washing for a few days before adding the application of deodorant. Give him privacy if he is capable of washing himself. The simplest way to tell if he is doing it properly is the smell test. If body odor is still present, ask him to try again.

6. Repeat hygiene routines every day. Repetition is paramount. If there is not enough time in the morning, divide it between morning and evening.

7. Show your son how and where to shave with an electric razor. HFA teens that need repetition to feel secure may want to repeat the process daily, even if it is not necessary.

8. Teach and reinforce the facts about sexual maturing to your son in a way he can understand. Start adding extra steps as body changes begin, one at a time, to his hygiene routine. When he is comfortable with one step add another. There are books and classes to help you, but learning and reassurance must continue at home.

9. Teach your son how to care for his hair. This will include learning how to brush, style, and wash it. You will want to start with basic brushing and styling. If he is resistant to hair brushing, it could just be the brush you are using. You can overcome this problem by letting him try a variety of brushes to find one he likes the feel of - or the look of. 
 

10. Washing hair is a big challenge also. The aversion that children with HFA have for hair washing has to do with several factors (e.g., water temperature, the feel of water on their head, soap getting in their eyes, the texture of the shampoo, etc.). A good way to overcome these problems is to adjust various aspects of the hair washing routine until you find the perfect combination that makes the task bearable. You will then walk your son through the hair washing process.

11. Watch for early signs of adolescent changes. Do not wait until they are full blown to begin to teach good hygiene.

12. Using visual reminders/timetables to encourage the completion of daily grooming tasks can be helpful in establishing good routines.

13. Use simple clothing. Look for things like elastic waists, pullover shirts, Velcro fastenings and slip-on shoes.

14. Use a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner to reduce time spent in the shower.

15. Try to keep your son’s hair and clothing fashionable (even if he doesn’t care, his peers do).

16. Teach your son to wash his hands, especially after coming home from school or playing outside and before eating. Hand washing is, without a doubt, one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs and illnesses.

17. Teach your son to cover sneezes and coughs. Germs can travel far and wide on a sneeze or a cough. Get him into the habit of covering his mouth and nose with a tissue (or his arm if he can’t reach a tissue fast enough) when he sneezes or coughs.

18. Set up regular bath times. Many moms and dads find that evening baths are a nice way to relax their teenager before bed. And bathing the night before can help ease the morning rush. Some teens prefer showers, which can also save a lot of time on a busy school night or morning. Showers can also save water.

19. Remind him to wash his hair if it looks oily, and teach him how to clean his face and under his nails.

20. Remind him not to touch his eyes or mouth or to pick his nose. Germs can easily enter the body through the mucous membranes of the eyes and through the nose and mouth.

21. Provide a soft bristled electric toothbrush and bland tasting toothpaste.

22. Minimize temperature variations when bathing.
 
==> Parenting System that Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder

23. If your son has balance problems, consider a shower chair for use while washing hair.

24. If your son finds a shirt that he is comfortable in, buy a couple in bigger sizes and put them away.

25. Goggles protect eyes from shampoo and water.

26. Get him into the habit of flossing, and if he has bad breath, have him gently scrape the back of his tongue with his toothbrush. Get a fun timer to help him brush longer, like a cool little hourglass filled with blue sand.

27. Experiment with unscented roll-on deodorants or natural crystal antiperspirant.

28. Cut out tags and buy seamless socks and garments if your son is sensitive to seams.

29. Being empathetic and talking with your son about his discomfort in the grooming process will help him develop better personal hygiene habits.

30. Be sure to put down a secure bath mat to prevent any slips on the wet floor when he’s done.

31. Allow your son to try several brands of toothpaste until he finds one he is comfortable with.

32. Lastly, have plenty of patience for your son's sensory sensitivities!


Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
 
 
More articles for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

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Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

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Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…

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Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…

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Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

Click here
to read the full article...

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Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...
 
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A child with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) can have difficulty in school because, since he fits in so well, many adults may miss the fact that he has a diagnosis. When these children display symptoms of their disorder, they may be seen as defiant or disruptive.

Click here for the full article...


PARENTS' COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... Also natural deodorant crystals don't stink the place out. you use them on wet armpits so they're a good reason to have a shower first. They're surprisingly effective and last a long time.

•    Anonymous said... I posted a list on the bathroom mirror (very detailed) and insisted that he follow it every day. ie: shower, wash your hair and your private areas, put on deodorant, comb your hair, brush you teeth for 2 minutes (set a timer), clean underwear every day, etc... I also purchased clinical strength deodorant that is applied before bed and that helped A LOT!! He is now 19 and usually remembers it on his own but before he walks out the door I always say "did you brush you teeth and put on deodorant?" I am fortunate that he is not offended by these reminders. I also told him that taking a shower is a daily activity and he would just have to get used to it so that he could fit into society. Everyone takes a shower every day- no questions asked!!!

•    Anonymous said... I recently took my Aspie nephew to the store and let him choose his own deoderant. He is very proud of it and pretty much puts it on every day without being asked. He also likes for us to smell him and tell him how good he smells. Maybe letting him make a choice and making a bit of a deal out of it helped. Who knows, I just hope it lasts.

•    Anonymous said... I wish choices worked for my son I even bring up going to choose one he likes or try to pass them in the store isle and he flips out. bought the natural no smell ones and he throws them away. We have him shower every other day. One day I did laundry and only found one pair of underwear. So I confronted him about this and he padded the laundry for the next week with 7 pairs of clean underwear. Consistency is key.

•    Anonymous said... Lots of good ideas here for you. I tie some of the hygiene items to rewards. My son loves to play games and if he gets the hygiene done without too much repetition he gets extra play time.

•    Anonymous said... My aspie son, 16, loves Axe because its cool and girls like it. I got him the soap/shampoo mixed one, the deodorant, and the body spray. I stopped buying the body spray when he was using a can a week.

•    Anonymous said... My son is all about rules and lists so I had to make hygiene a 'Rule'. I use a wax pen to write his list of hygiene tasks on the bathroom mirror. He gets fined $1 if they don't happen. He has a strong aversion to anything not natural and chemical and for awhile wouldn't use products. I had him research natural products that worked. So now the entire family uses them thanks to him educating us all lol! It took awhile but now its almost a non-issue.

•    Anonymous said... My son walks round in his boxers. ALL the time! He's 20! (So does my little boy age 1 0 and nt)...my aspie son had problems with his teeth and needed a brace and when the orthodontist saw him she almost refused to put him into braces because of poor dental hygiene..he was so mortified he went completely the other way, brushed his teeth from then on perfectly and now has a dream smile...he works out a lot and can get v sweaty and be unaware of his own body smell (so I make him use a roll on deoderant and then a spray one on top!) X

•    Anonymous said... stick reminder notes up in the bathroom? Brush teeth. Wash under arms. Use deodorant etc...

•    Anonymous said... We had the same problem with our daughter, we got help from our local autism outreach worker who came out and had a personal talk with her and touch wood so far it's worked, the only problem my daughter had was with spray deodorants where she would spray but it wasn't going under the arm so I got her a roll on and she now smells sweet

•    Anonymous said... we had this issue in working with our behaviour therapist we chose the most important task to challenge first and focus on then listed the others below. My son was on a token program where he got tokens of different colors each day to trade in for something he liked then at the end of the month we tallied them all and if he was in the big range he got a bigger treat. Predetermined in the planning phase. It takes a while but it did work. We are still working on brushing teeth it is coming. We go to the dentist every 6 to months for a cleaning to ensure we are OK. Hope this helps.

•    Anonymous said... also glad it's not just mine, I did get him a onsie which he likes enough to wear all the time instead of walking round in boxers (with a fleece blanket tied over one shoulder like some sort of roman toga when it's cold) but I have to kidnap it when he's sleeping to wash it, again, it's that old chestnut of 'no honey, you can't go on playstation til you've had a shower/brushed teeth etc'

•    Anonymous said... OMG..I thought it was just me! He was diagnosed 6mths ago...now 20yrs old...now showers 5 out of 7 days a week. But through his teen years...geez!

•    Anonymous said... Your not alone, I'm in the same boat but that's what's so funny. When you hear someone going through the same thing you gotta laugh and have a sigh of relief your not insane. I do have to check with my son every morning and tell him to shower, lucky for me he does not give me a hard time but if I forgot you can Smell him as he goes by and basically I have him stop what he's doing and take a shower right then and there. How about good old fashioned bribery. My son loves his Star Wars tee shirts and such. Maybe if you cant find stuff like that he would love to wear, especially when they think its funny ,he'll take a shower to wear one. The teeth...that's a tough one. I have three other grown NT children and everyone of them gave me a hard time about that, it's a Teenage thing. They all out grew it.

•    Anonymous said… We have a laminated list in the Bathroom and Kitchen because we felt we were always nagging..".have you cleaned your teeth, have you washed your hair and had a shower today"!! Now we just say have you checked your list today hun and she goes off and does it...seems to be working so far!!

•    Anonymous said… That's my son! Lists work great. If its not on his list it won't get done. I write with a wax pencil his hygiene tasks on his side of the kids bathroom mirror but in questions. 'Did you brush your teeth?' 'Did you use Deodorant?'. Not to single him out I do the same for his sister on her side. It helps. I just wonder when he grows up will he still need a list?

•    Anonymous said… That's my son too! Holy cow. I thought he was just being lazy. He refuses to take more than one bath/shower per week, so I let him get away with that one AS LONG AS, he washes at the sink every day - and yes I have to stand there and watch. Also have to check on him when he's brushing his teeth, otherwise he'll do a quick "brushover" and say he brushed his teeth. ugh. We started with the deodorant almost 1 year ago (he's 12), still have to remind him every day.

•    Anonymous said… I just took my Aspie nephew to the store and allowed him to choose his own deoderant. He is so proud of his choice, pretty much puts it on by himself every day and loves for us to smell him after he does. Maybe making it his choice was the key. I'm not sure.

Post your comment below…

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…

Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

Click here
to read the full article...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content